Tag Archives: Barack Obama

The Birther Conspiracy: Good Old Fashioned Racism For The 21st Century

The Birther conspiracy: white America’s racist fantasy

The ‘birthers’, no name could be more misleading for a group of people who want to be taken seriously about their beliefs, but there is nothing serious, logical or reasonable about people who believe that Barack Obama was born in a country outside the CONUS. If you suggest to people that the idea of questioning the birth circumstances of America’s first non-white president has more than a whiff of racism about it, they get defensive. Some may even claim that you’re ‘obsessed’ with race and that ‘everything’ you say is ‘about race’. But such beliefs – for this is what they are – are also an exercise of denial on the part of the ‘birther’, who is as likely as not to dismiss you as a ‘sheeple’ if you refuse or refute their ‘truths’.

It is undeniable that the language of racism has changed a great deal since the 1970s and racists themselves are conscious of a need to speak in words that aren’t necessarily directly related to what Fanon (1986) called ‘melanism’; a classificatory practice that is based on pseudo-scientific notions of biological difference and characterised by the outward marker of skin colour. Therefore the more ideologically-inclined of their number will resort to purely economic language to circumlocute the subject of discourse. For example, there is a belief on the part of a particular group within the American libertarian right that Jim Crow should have continued because, in their eyes, denying the rights of white Americans to deny African-Americans access to a variety of socio-economic activities was a refusal of white freedoms. This was America’s apartheid that was rationalized in similar terms to South Africa by British apologists (The Freedom Association, for example) for the latter’s racist regime.

The fixation that some people have with Obama’s circumstances of birth is doubtlessly predicated on a racist trope: namely that blacks are not full citizens of the United States. This belief has its origins in slavery when blacks were the property of their masters. Even free blacks (and, indeed, Indians) were not considered citizens: they could not vote and were barred from holding public office. When African-Americans were enfranchised at the end of the Civil War, they continued to be denied the vote in the former Confederate states through the means of pseudo-legalistic mechanisms like The Grandfather clause or the Poll Tax. The former was enacted at the biological level and the latter was exercised economically. It took further Federal legislation to force change on the southern states. Even so, the question of who is allowed to be American and who is not persists with certain sections of the American right.

Like suspicious software that can be downloaded on the Internet, the birther narrative often comes bundled with other dubious narratives that tend to orbit other unpleasant and sometimes hidden discourses, some of which may be related to discredited tracts like The Protocols and bizarre notions about lizards-in-human-form. Wherever you find a site about World Financial Conspiracies, you will also find an abundance of birther material. Those who choose to believe these conspiracy theories appear to be substituting one form of extreme religious belief for another.

Recently, I have found myself having to deal with conspiracy theorists on Facebook and elsewhere. I have tried to use logic and examples from history in an attempt to get them to think critically about their beliefs but, as anyone who has dealt with cultists will recognize, this is an impossible task. The ‘Birther’ conspiracies are some of the most vile racist ideas to have been propagated since The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. When I point out to CT’s that these notions were produced by racist discourses, the reply that I get from them is “I’m not a racist”. But if you’re not a racist, then why do you subscribe to racist discourses? They have no answer. It’s like saying to a born-again Christian that praying achieves nothing; all you are doing is refusing responsibility for your life and your actions – or lack of them.

The way in which the birther conspiracy has morphed over the course of the last few years demonstrates the CT’s slipshod grasp of reality. First, they claimed Obama’s birth certificated was “forged” and that he was, in fact, a Muslim who was born in either Kenya (his father’s place of birth) or Indonesia (his stepfather’s place of birth). Even Obama’s church-going wasn’t enough for these people, who fail to understand that if a Muslim goes into a church and partakes in its rituals, that person would be considered an apostate. To this, the CT’s claimed that Obama was also a “Marxist”. But if that were true, why did he bail out the banks? Why hasn’t Obama created a proper Marxist economy instead of attempting to patch up a fatally-wounded capitalist economic system? Again, the CT cannot produce a coherent reply and instead, falls back on tropes. ‘Obamacare’, they scream. When it is pointed out to them that the biggest opponents of universal healthcare are big pharma and the medical insurance companies, both of whom have an interest in producing scare stories, there is no reply, just more of the same gibberish about people having chips implanted into their bodies or nanites being injected into their bloodstreams. It’s the stuff of dystopian science fiction.

More recently, CTs have claimed that Obama, who shortened his first name to the more English-sounding “Barry” in his youth, renounced his US citizenship when his mother married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian. The CTs claim that he applied for a Fulbright Scholarship at Occidental College under the name ‘Barry Soetoro’, yet the college has no record of this and, even if Obama had taken his stepfather’s surname, it’s hardly unusual or surprising. It happens all the time. Naturally, CTs will then claim that Obama “ordered the college to destroy any records”. When you ask them to produce evidence to support this claim, guess what happens? Not much. Just more incoherent babble. In fact, when Obama visited Ireland to connect with his Irish roots, I Gaelicized his name to Bairre Ó Beámagh for a laugh. I don’t doubt that he has Irish ancestors. I, too, have Irish and Scottish ancestors. There is no such thing as pure ethnicity and even those white racists who talk about the “indigenous British” have no idea what they’re talking about because this is an island nation of immigrants and invaders.

The most revealing thing about the birther conspiracy is that Black people don’t buy into it. It is supported entirely by whites. Furthermore, Obama is not actually black, he is of mixed parentage and as those people who are of mixed parentage will tell you, they’re always being questioned on their origins. For example I have been referred to to variously as ‘Arab’ or ‘Pakistani’, although I am neither. People will make up things about you if they are blind or foolish enough to buy into the superficialities of skin colour as a marker of a person’s identity and/or culture. This ethnic purism is undoubtedly racist. To this end, the Obama birth conspiracy was concocted by white racists who couldn’t come to terms with the fact that a man who is not white is now President of the United States.

The conspiracy theory is quickly supplanting religion as a belief system. The followers of conspiracy theories are highly devoted to their beliefs and blinded by their faith in questionable ideas. They are unable or unwilling to interrogate the sources that they frequently cite and accept any information so long as it accords with their beliefs.  Unwittingly CTs produce a confirmation bias that is endlessly looped  in their mind. In fact, it is the only voice they hear.

This mediamatters blog is worth a read.

References

Fanon, F. (1986) Black Skin, White Masks. London: Pluto Press

Gilroy, P. (2007) There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack. London: Routledge

Hall, S. (ed.) (1997) Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, London: Sage.

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Telegraph Comment of the Week (#18)

One subject that tends to occupy the minds of the halfwits who leave comments on Telegraph blogs is Barack Obama. These self-styled ‘birthers’ can’t quite believe that the President of the United States is a man with brown skin. Obama’s parentage has been the subject of countless racist conspiracy theories. “He’s a Muslim”, “He’s a communist”, ” “He was born on Mars”.

Like I’ve said many times on this blog I’m not a fan of Obama. He’s shown time and time again that he’s little different to all the other US presidents, especially when it comes to bombing the world’s brown people.

Normally it’s Nile Gardiner who’s obsessed with Obama. If you look at his blogs over the course of the last five years, you will see that most of them are about Obama and how he “hates Britain” or some such nonsense. Thursday, it was the turn of Doc Stanley to provide pieces of rotting meat for the slavering hordes of racists.

The Marxist Bill Ayers is a good capitalist – he knows what sells. The blurb for his new book, Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident, comes with this interesting tease:

Ayers reveals how he has navigated the challenges and triumphs of this public life with steadfastness and a dash of good humor—from the red carpet at the Oscars, to prison vigils and airports (where he is often detained and where he finally “confesses” that he did write Dreams from My Father).

What?! He confesses that he wrote Barack Obama’s best-selling memoir Dreams from My Father? Making Obama not just a bad president but a fraud, too? It was too much to disbelieve for some on the Right, with Investors.com walking into the trap and Rush Limbaugh following behind, both headlining that Ayers had exposed himself as the original author.

That was enough to get extreme headbangers like “Lord Howard Hurts” to leave this coiled-up present on The Doc’s dreadful blog.

Lord Howard is a turd

This demand to see Obama’s birth certificate is predicated on nothing less than racism. As I’ve pointed out before on this blog: John McCain, who was born outside the United States was never subjected to this kind of demand. Why? Because he’s white. “Lord Arse Hurts” now also claims that Obama’s parents weren’t who they claimed to be. Again this is based on racist notions of racial purity.

I had a look at “Lord Arse’s” blog, which he has laughing titled “freedomfiles” and the language used is characteristically violent. It’s exactly the sort of thing that you’d expect from a Tea Party supporting, gun-toting, racist shit-kicker who lurvs his country.

The survival of America and this great Republic will not be found in the empty rhetoric of political ‘sing song‘ given us by the likes of President B.H. Obama or Hillary ‘my daughter and I were under fire in Bosnia‘ Clinton, or any current RINO pretender. We are currently on the edge of a Civil War between the races precisely because  President B.H. Obama has so divided this nation along the lines of race and personal responsibility that the freedoms so long ago won through blood, sweat, and tears, is fast coming to an inglorious end. Unless actions are taken by concerned Patriots the collapse into complete socialism will be upon us.

This talk of being “on the edge of Civil War” reminds me of the kind of language used by self-styled British ‘patriots’ who constantly talk of ‘treason’, ‘genocide’ and ‘race replacement’. “Lord Arse” also believes that he and his ilk are the only people who understand “freedom”. Yet if this person actually bothered to do any research instead of relying wholly on myths, he would see that the “freedom” of which he writes was limited to a certain class of people. Indians and Blacks had no freedom and women couldn’t vote. The working classes were shot and killed when they organized and agitated for better working conditions. “Lord Arse” may talk about “freedom” but he and his class work tirelessly to deny others of their freedoms. In other words, he talks out of his arse.

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Nile Gardiner, the Falkland Islands and Barack Obama

Nile Gardiner: obsessive and paranoid. He could give Dr Strangelove’s General Jack D Ripper a run for his money.

There are two words that I’d use to describe Moonie Nile Gardiner. One is paranoid, the other is obsessive. He can only write blogs about two things: The Falkland Islands and Barack Obama. Sometimes…well, most of the time, he combines his two obsessions into a single blog.

Until Mitt Romney’s defeat last November, Gardiner was one of Mitt’s mutts. His brief was to brief Romney on foreign affairs. He did a pretty poor job of it too. Now he’s back to his day job as the Director of The Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom (sic), a subdivision of the extreme right-wing Heritage Foundation.

In the last month, I’ve lost count of the number of Gardiner’s blogs that mention or feature Obama and The Falklands. It’s clear that he desperately wants some kind of confrontation between Britain and Argentina. He’s nostalgic for the glory days of 1982 and he doesn’t really mind if people get killed just as long as the Falklanders maintain their dubious ‘sovereignty’.

Take yesterday’ blog titled, “British Ambassador to Washington calls on Obama to back rights of Falkland Islanders”, in which he conscripts the ambassador to fight his corner. He writes,

Sir Peter Westmacott, the veteran British Ambassador to Washington, has an excellent piece in Politico today in advance of the Falklands referendum which is taking place on March 10 and 11. Aimed squarely at US policymakers, the article outlines why Argentina’s claims over the Falklands are unfounded, and why the future of the Falkland Islands must be decided by the inhabitants of the Islands themselves. It is a clear-cut case of self-determination. As Sir Peter writes, invoking the spirit of the American Declaration of Independence:

My bold. He’s got this all wrong. How on earth can he compare the Falklands – a British colony  Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic – to the 12 states that rejected British rule in 1776? His understanding of history is faulty. Here’s what the ambassador wrote,

The Argentine government claims sovereignty over the islands based on events that took place more than 180 years ago when the archipelago was little more than an isolated outpost with almost no permanent population. But according to the most fundamental principles of international law, accepted by all nations for the past 60 years, it is for the inhabitants of a territory alone to determine how they are governed — the fundamental principle of self-determination, which received its most eloquent expression in Philadelphia in 1776.

… Kirchner and her government seek to portray the Falklands’ status as an example of British colonialism. But what could be more colonialist than seeking control of a territory — over which you have never exercised sovereignty and which your country accepted was British more than 160 years ago — against the wishes of the people who lived there?

Britain, as it has done so many times, stole the islands from under the noses of the nascent Argentina.  The islands were formally colonized by Britain in 1840. But the word “colonialism”, which has been used by Cristina Kirchner, is contested by Gardiner and his buddy, Westmacott.  But the facts speak for themselves: the Falklands are one of the last vestiges of British colonialism along with the troublesome Pitcairn Islands and tax havens like the Cayman Islands. The title “British Overseas Territories” is highly misleading because these territories are colonies in all but name; their inhabitants are considered British citizens but have no political representation in the ‘mother’ country as is the case with French overseas territories or DOM-TOM. Most of these overseas territories have strategic value or are located adjacent to some natural resource or other. Hence the reason why they remain British.

But what about this referendum? Isn’t it a foregone conclusion that the Falklanders will vote to remain, er, ‘British’? So what’s the point of it? It’s simple: Britain or, at least, the Tories and perhaps UKIP, want to rattle sabres with Argentina. Both parties are nostalgic for the long-dead British Empire and both parties gush over the memory of Thatcher’s triumph over the beastly Argies.

In the previous blog, the Moonie writes,

As readers of this blog will know, the Obama administration has a long track record of knifing Britain in the back over the Falklands issue. It has consistently sided with Cristina Kirchner’s calls for negotiations between London and Buenos Aires over the sovereignty of the Falklands, and will not recognise the right to self-determination of the Falkland Islanders. The Obama White House and State Department have refused to condemn the Kirchner regime’s campaign of intimidation against the Falklands, a self-governing British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic, including the boarding of fishing vessels bearing the Falklands flag, and threats to mount a naval blockade.

“The Obama administration has a long track record of knifing Britain in the back over the Falklands issue”? The Obama administration has only been in place a little over 4 years. But here’s a question: how has Kirchner “intimidated” the Falklanders? He does not say. Knowing Gardiner, as I do, I would suggest that he’s come over all dramatic like a pantomime dame. I urge you to look at the blog title. It’s typically hysterical.

He provides a video produced by The Heritage Foundation… well, there’s a surprise.

The narrative advanced by this video ignores the fact that sovereignty over the islands has always been disputed. The reason why Britain colonized the Falklands was because of sealing and whaling. Both animals provided oil for lighting, heating and domestic products. Now oil of a different kind has been found offshore.

The Eastleigh by-election, in which the Tories came fourth behind UKIP, is shamelessly used by Gardiner to have another feeble pop at Obama.  He only mentions Obama once in this blog and it’s in the final paragraph. He tells us,

David Cameron needs to look to the Iron Lady, and not Barack Obama, for inspiration if he is to have any hope of winning in 2015. A conservative party can only win if it sticks to conservative values. Otherwise it becomes an empty shell that succeeds only in alienating its own base and destroying its very identity.

Ridiculous. Nurse! This one keeps thrashing about!

The day before Eastleigh, the ever-paranoid and shrill Gardiner tells us that Obama’s presidency is “A nasty, brutish, imperial presidency”. So why is that, Nile?

Thomas Hobbes wrote that the life of man is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Today’s White House definitely isn’t poor, lavishly feeding off the wealth of the American taxpayer, and the current presidency certainly isn’t short, with nearly four more years to run. But it is undeniably nasty and brutish, as veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward has found after questioning President Obama’s narrative on the sequester issue.

A quote from Hobbes? Great. Just what we needed. There’s more,

Woodward, one of two reporters who broke the Watergate story that led to Richard Nixon’s downfall (immortalised in the 1976 Oscar winner All The President’s Men), has revealed to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the White House warned him that he would “regret” his recent remarks on the sequester, made in Washington Post column. (Read the exchange of emails between White House economic adviser Gene Sperling and Woodward posted by Politico here.) Woodward is hardly a conservative, and has been at the heart of the liberal media establishment for decades. He is, however, not afraid of challenging the status quo, as he did with his 2010 book Obama’s Wars. Woodward is not alone. Lanny Davis, another liberal columnist and former special counsel to Bill Clinton, who has penned several pieces critical of Obama’s policies, has also spoken out against similar White House tactics.

So Bush’s presidency, in which the PATRIOT Act was enacted, doesn’t count?

We get to the point of the blog towards the end,

Will American liberals now stand up to the Obama White House and condemn its blatant attempts to suppress criticism and free speech? I doubt it. The Washington Post has provided relatively little coverage of the story, despite the fact that one its own star writers has been targeted.The New York Times is, unsurprisingly, completely silent (with the exception of a small mention in a single blog) on the issue. Ironically, most of the reporting of the White House’s attempts to intimidate liberal critics has come from the conservative press, led by the Drudge Report, which has propelled the story to national prominence. Both conservatives and liberals should be rallying to the defence of free speech and freedom of the press, holding the Obama presidency to account. All Americans should be concerned by government attempts to stifle press criticism in the land of the free, tactics which undermine the very foundations of liberty.

The first sentence of this paragraph reminds me of Louise Mensch’s outburst on Twitter when she demanded that the Labour Party condemn those who wished Thatcher dead. It’s a right-wing trick designed to claim moral authority over their opponents.

I would continue with Gardiner’s obsessions but I’d be here for months. Why not have a look at this page on Telegraph blogs? You’ll notice that the Moonie has little else to write about. He even manages a rather bitchy attack on Michelle Obama.

Now I’m not a fan of Obama but I find Gardiner’s fascination with him bizarre to the point of being pathological. He’s a cheerleader for war, death and destruction. His idea of freedom, like that of The Freedom Association, is Orwellian.

Mitt Romney lost the presidential election. Gardiner is still bitter that his man choked it. Now he spends his days churning out blog after blog about Obama. He also has the Falklands to use as a stick to smash his favourite target over the head. Obama will be in the White House for four years, but I suspect Gardiner will still write blogs about him long after he is gone.

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Gardiner leads The Charge of the Bitter Brigade

Obama won, get over it.

Obama won the election and the Moonie is angry… and bitter. I found this on the English version of Die Welt.

… Nile Gardiner, of conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, does not believe that the Republicans’ defeat is of great significance, since they still have the power to stymie the president’s bills. He points out that the new generation of Republicans, like Florida senator Marco Rubio, are just as conservative as the old. “So you’re not going to see the Republicans shifting to the left but maintaining their core conservative principles,” said. He also believes that the Tea Party will continue to have a lot of influence.

He’s in denial. The Republicans have to change. Gardiner’s idea of a conservative is something akin to a Falangist (I’m stopping short of fascist). Indeed, the Republicans have slid so far to the right that any party that is slightly less right-wing is seen as “left” or “socialist”. In truth, the Tea Party’s influence scuppered any real chance Romney had, because by associating with them, he became their hostage to such an extent that he developed Stockholm Syndrome. But the Republicans can’t see it. Here’s some more from The Moonie.

“So far there isn’t any evidence that he is willing to be bipartisan,” he warned.

Gardiner also argued that though Obama is politically further left than the country as a whole, he will still be a “lame duck president.” And he adds that Obama will struggle to pass his immigration reform proposal. “I don’t see any Republican appetite for immigration reform,” he said.

If Obama is “left-wing” and a “socialist”, then I’m a Tory grandee. He’ll continue to kill civilians in drone strikes and protect capitalist interests. That’s what he does. The Affordable Healthcare Act, dubbed “Obamacare”, will continue to exercise Republican emotions.  And the Birthers and Truthers? Well, they’ll keep dribbling conspiranoid fantasies. The world still turns.

Let’s have a look at some of his tweets.

His Torygraph stablemate, James Delingpole, chimes in with some poorly thought out bollocks about Greece and the EU. Notice how Gardiner also retweeted some bullshit article from  The Washington Times. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t plenty of Republican presidents sucked up to “overseas authoritarians”? Do the names Nixon, Pinochet and Suharto mean anything? Well, not to Gardiner, because he’s the Director of the Orwellian Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, whose raison d’etre is not freedom but serfdom for those who aren’t billionaire industrialists or bankers.

Let’s have a look at that Wash Times article. Here’s the opening paragraph.

The Russians, Chinese and Iranians would vote for Barack Obama. That’s a good reason for Americans to select someone else.

Oh, very bitchy. Let’s read on.

Polls and informal surveys from around the world show that if foreigners could vote in the U.S. election, President Obama would win hands down. “The One” may have lost some of the luster he had four years ago, when simply showing up was good enough for him to land a Nobel Peace Prize, but he’s still popular overseas. That’s because many countries resent a robust White House, and adversary states chafe when their designs are foiled by American might. Mr. Obama is the perfect president for both factions. His diminutive stature on the global scene incites no envy among our friends and offers frequent opportunities to our adversaries.

Paranoia alert! Curiously enough, this article has no by-line and it’s entirely possible that it was written by the chubby-cheeked one.

Over at the Torygraph, Brendan O’Neill claims that Obama’s victory is a win for the “elitists”. It’s a typically confused piece that argues the President’s campaign was not so much supported by “Joe Averages” as it was by

 “the tech sector, government and the academy” – his top five funders were “the University of California, Microsoft, Google, the US government, and Harvard”. Executives at Craigslist, Facebook and Google gave maximum donations to Obama’s campaign.

O’Neill’s argument is drawn from an article by Joel Kotkin at the Daily Beast. Tell us something we don’t know, Brendan. Big business supports the Democrats. It’s hardly earth-shattering stuff.

Doc Stanley, he of the Pat Buchanan biography, points the finger at the Tea Party for Romney’s defeat.  The sanguine Stanley then offers some advice to the Tea Party. Good luck with that.

The challenge for the Tea Party is to return to its fiscal roots and try to shake off some of the bad memories of this election year. It’s interesting to note that House candidates supported by Ron Paul – who peddles a less culturally toxic brand of libertarianism – did rather well. Is Paulism the future?

Ah, so now the Doc has become a Paulician? Yeah, I know what a Paulician is, I’ve just appropriated the name. Dig? I love how Stanley casts off Romney like a beat-up mac and slips into his new Ron Paul cape and boots. No one wants to be seen with a loser. Good luck with that one too, Doc. As for Paul’s [coughs] libertarianism being “less toxic”, that’s just nuts. He’s a racist. Remember?

I can’t end this blog without mentioning Janet Daley, whose blog is, well, weird.

A depressing election fact for the Republican party constitutes something of a warning for Labour. According to exit polls, a significant majority of US voters still blame George Bush for the economic crisis. In other words, they continue to hold the party which was in power at the time responsible for the 2008 crash and its lingering consequences. Angry commentators on the American Right are attributing this to the White House spin operation which has never failed to pin it all on the Bush administration even as its own goals for economic recovery were repeatedly missed.

There’s no mention of Romney or the Tea Party in her blog. Instead, she tries to comfort herself with the fantasy of Labour being trounced at the next general election by the Conservatives… who are currently demonstrating how economically illiterate they are, while doling out NHS contracts to their business chums. You keep taking the drugs, Janet but I don’t think they’re working.

And what about the zombie-eyed granny-starver, Paul Ryan? Hopefully he’ll disappear back up his own arse.

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Can you hear that?

It’s the sound of Moonie, Nile Gardiner sobbing his wee heart out as Mitt Romney loses the Presidential Election to Barack Obama.

I guess it’s back to penning outraged blogs about how Churchill’s bust no longer sits in the Oval Office and how Obama is allowing Argentina to “insult” Britain. He’ll also find the time to complain that Obama hasn’t visited “our friend and ally” Israel.

Gardiner still hasn’t said anything about Sun Myung Moon’s death. The silence, as they say, is deafening.

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Da Don, his ‘truth’ and a little bit of business in Aberdeenshire

Donald Trump is a nasty piece of work. If anyone saw the film You’ve Been Trumped on BBC2 the other week, you’ll know that the billionaire property developer purchased land in Aberdeenshire with the intention of building one of his luxury resorts. The site that he purchased was identified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Those that lived nearby were harassed and their homes described as “slums” by Da Don, a man who’s used to getting his own way by simply waving his wedge about. There are also serious allegations that Trump regarded Grampian Police as his private security team and has been putting them under pressure to act. Does he get away with this shit in Noo York? Probably.

Trump is a bit like a Mafia don but without the garottes, knuckledusters, violin cases and pretensions to a Sicilian heritage. He’s a plastic don. He’s got the dynasty – da family. His hair, often resembling a mutated piece of shredded wheat, attracts ridicule and bafflement the world over. He’s got the money (but is it real or just debt?) and influence. But it’s his claims to have access to a special kind of truth that has been attracting the most ridicule, especially on Twitter.

Last year, Da Don claimed to have ‘evidence’ of Barack Obama’s ‘foreign’ birth. It turned out to be another one of his attention-seeking stunts (He’d earlier claimed that he was going to run for the Republican presidential nomination but went a bit silent). This time around, it’s all about the President’s college records. Sigh. This is… how can I put this? Juvenile?

Let’s be clear about this: demands to see Obama’s birth certificate or any other document smells suspiciously, in The Cat’s view, of crypto-racism. In other words, it’s the sort of racism that does its best to deny its true nature by claiming to be something else. That can be either a concern for the ‘truth’ or an economic rationalization (see the classical liberals’ arguments about Jim Crow and segregation). Questions of one’s birth were, rather curiously, absent in the case of John McCain, who was born outside the Continental United States in the Panama Canal Zone, which was not, at that time, an incorporated territory. McCain is white, therefore his citizenship was never in question as far as the Tea Partiers and assorted conspiranoids are concerned.  On that basis, McCain should have been disqualified on the grounds that he was born outside of the United States. Even those born of US service personnel overseas are barred from running for the presidency. Is that fair? Well, not really. But those are rules.

The discourses of citizenship and national identity are often deployed by the right, nationalists especially, to question the right of those persons of a particular ethnicity or culture to live in, what they see as, ‘their’ country. Therefore such discourses almost always contain the hidden and unpleasant discourse of racism. In Trump’s case, it’s fine for Black people to be athletes and boxers, but President of the United States? Not in Trump’s world! The word that springs to mind, but which Trump did not say, is “uppity”, which is always attached to the other word. The one that begins with the letter, “N”.

But what about Trump’s authenticity? Is he what he claims to be? Listen to The Guardian’s Adam Gabbutt as he tries to obtain a copy of Trump’s passport and college records. The person who takes the call is pretty unpleasant.

If you haven’t seen You’ve Been Trumped, here’s the trailer. The film may still be on BBC iPlayer.

Trump recently announced that he would donate $5 million to charity if Obama showed him his college records. I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours! Ooer, missus!  The Mambo rips into The Man with the Mystery Hair here.

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Romney, Gardiner and the Anglo-Saxon comment

The Normans: they came, they saw, they conquered and later intermarried with the locals.

When it was announced that Mitt Romney was to visit the UK, Israel and Poland, I suspected that Nile Gardiner was involved in drawing up the itinerary for the Presidential hopeful.  It has his dirty fingerprints all over it.  How can I tell? Well, if you Google “Nile Gardiner Poland”, for example, you will see that the top three links are Gardiner’s  Torygraph blogs. Now try Googling “Nile Gardiner Israel” and you will get similar results.  But the visit to Britain has not gone as well as planned and a remark made by Romney about the Olympics sparked off a bout of transatlantic mudslinging.

Yesterday,  one of Romney’s advisors used the phrase “Anglo-Saxon” when speaking to Jon Swaine of the Daily Torygraph.  swain doesn’t name the advisor but I have my suspicions. The remark caused a predictable reaction and this prompted several of the Torygraph bloggers to rally behind Romney and assert their Anglo-Saxon credentials. Some, like the Lyin’ King, have insisted that the compound  “Anglo-Saxon” is equivalent to the word “liberty”. He writes,

And where do these characteristics have their roots? In Anglo-Saxon civilisation. When a Romney aide told this newspaper that the US and Britain shared an ‘Anglo-Saxon heritage’, he or she was stating the obvious. Those Lefties pretending to be upset – the Obama campaign called the remark ‘stunningly offensive’ – know perfectly well that the reference was cultural rather than racial. When the French talk of ‘les anglo-saxons’ or the Spanish of ‘los anglosajones’, they don’t mean Cerdic and Oswine and Æthelstan. They mean people who speak English and believe in small government.

I love how Hannan excuses Romney by saying, ” the reference was cultural rather than racial”. But then, he would say that. He would defend Satan, given half the chance. He also deliberately ignores the way in which the phrase is often used to claim that Obama isn’t “white” and to make the spurious point that he does not understand the mythological ‘ties that bind’ the two English-speaking countries.

The fact of the matter is that this country was invaded by the Normans in 1066. the Anglo-Saxons and the other peoples who inhabited this island were over-run and forced to accept the invaders as their conquerors and overlords. Over time, the Normans intermarried with the locals (after brutalizing them). That makes this country as much Norman as it does Anglo-Saxon.  Of course, the fact that large swathes of this country were  occupied by the Danes (Danelaw) as well as the Romans before them doesn’t seem to matter much to the racists and  crypto-racists that clutter the Internet. They declare themselves to be Anglo-Saxon, even though a simple DNA test would reveal something startlingly different.

Here’s the offending remark that was made by the ‘unnamed advisor’,

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr. Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”

Ah, the shared history and the transatlantic bruderschaft. This is odd because from the American War of Independence in 1776 to the period immediately after WWII, Britain was on the US’s shit-list. In fact the US and Britain came close to going to war with one another in 1895 over a small strip of land between Venezuela and British Guyana. The US even planned to have a war with Britain as recently as 1930.

So who produced this extraordinary piece of ahistorical tosh? Like me, Gideon Rachmann of the FT has his suspicions,

Suspicion swiftly fell on Nile Gardiner, a Brit who works at the Heritage Foundation and has been named as one of Romney’s foreign-policy advisory team. Gardiner blogs for the Telegraph and has admitted speaking to the Telegraph journalist who wrote the story – but, despite strong circumstantial evidence, denied being the source of the quote.

As we know, Gardiner isn’t shy when it comes to making comments that can be construed as racist. He has plenty of previous. On this occasion he denies it but then, he would.

Rachmann also highlights a blog written by the Moonie in which he lists Barack Obama’s “Top 10 insults against Britain”.

This article from TMP is rather interesting, especially for the last paragraph.

My other reason for being interested in this is something my friend Mike Lind always had a good way of capturing — which is the way that on the American right, Brits, particularly conservative Brits, amount to something like Americans by proxy. Sure, they don’t carry US citizenship. But by possessing the ur-Anglo-Saxon-ness and the heritage thing and the stiff upper lip and some Great Books rearing they’re practically more American than we are. Sort of like the yeast that makes the bread. So a Brit like Nile Gardiner is sort of more one of us — at least in some Platonic ideal form — than the Mexican-American son of immigrants in San Diego or Los Angeles. And certainly he might get the centrality of our Anglo-Saxon heritage more than someone like Barack Obama who’s the son of a Kenyan and born in Hawaii and even spent time as a kid living in Indonesia.

But all that aside, is Nile Gardiner an American citizen?

My bold. No he isn’t but that doesn’t mean that he’s particularly au fait with what’s happening in the UK either, as I point out in this blog.

Interestingly,the American Conservative dismisses any suggestion that the US is 100%  Anglo-Saxon,

But it’s misleading to describe the folkways and political traditions that Americans inherited from Britain as “Anglo-Saxon”. For the most part, they date back no further than the 16th century, when British life was redefined by the Reformation and the beginnings of capitalism.

The Anglo-Saxons, on the other hand, were Germanic tribes who lived in Britain after about the 5th century. Although not eliminated, their language (Old English) and political institutions were transformed by the Norman conquest in 1066. Calling the early modern traditions that connected the United States and Britain in the colonial period “Anglo-Saxon” is a little like calling the calling the Pope the pontifex maximus. There’s a sense in which it’s true, but too much history separates the two eras for the comparison to be useful.

Quite.

What we have here is a very sly way of playing the race card. The suggestion is that Obama is not “Anglo-Saxon” is another way of saying he  isn’t white and therefore doesn’t understand the ‘Special Relationship’. This, of course,  isn’t true and as we all know, Obama is mixed race. But Gardiner and his chums on the Torygraph favour the One-Drop Rule. If you have a one black parent, grandparent or great-grandparent, then you are black; an Other.

Furthermore, Moonie Gardiner has been involved in an anti-Obama smear campaign since the President took office. Not a week passes by when he hasn’t written a blog that complains of Obama’s insensitivity towards this and that. The fact that Gardiner denies making the comment means nothing. It’s his modus operandi. Those are his words.

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Filed under United States, US Presidential Election 2012